When Yukon travellers head Outside for their winter vacations there’s a better than even chance they will be transiting through Vancouver.
It is what we do to move from “A” to “B.”
We are used to Vancouver.
We know Vancouver.
We have family and friends there — or at least a favourite hotel.
But what happens after Vancouver, when we leave its familiar surroundings and continue into less familiar territory?
This is where the adventure begins, where things become a little bit more “weird, but wonderful.”
What is it about flying?
Almost everyone complains about it, but they keep flying anyway.
No matter what the regulations and the rules, no matter how long the lineups, we just take a deep sigh, roll our eyes, repack our luggage and head to the airport.
Absolutely no way are we staying home!
You haul a good part of everything you own into this cavernous metal bird and buckle in.
After some noise and motion the doors open and you are somewhere totally different.
It’s a bit like space and time travel for beginners.
Take, for example, Los Angeles, California’s, LAX.
Not much further from Vancouver than the Yukon, just in the opposite direction.
There’s the added …. oh, what’s the word … yes, intrigue of US Customs and Immigration.
There is paperwork requiring mental inventories of every single item stashed in your checked and carry-on bags — and which is packed where.
Is your shampoo bottle larger than 100 millilitres?
What is the equivalent in ounces — or grams? My belt buckle set off the metal detector — but they want me to take off my shoes?
Is customs before or after security?
Where is my photo I.D. — I just had it in my hand!
Sure, there are 100 confusing details.
But there’s something else.
There’s looking out the plane window as you begin the descent for landing and seeing mountains you have never seen before.
There are lakes you have never fished in which you don’t know the names of.
There’s a wrinkle in time and you can hear The Mamas and the Papas singing California Dreaming.
California — beaches, waves.
Yes, there are the waves lapping the beach as the plane approaches the runway.
There could well be people surfing there right this minute if you look closely enough.
The radio station in your mind changes to the Beach Boys, Surfing USA.
Looking across the houses and houses and houses there are little turquoise gems all over the ground – hang on, those are swimming pools in back yards and lane pools on rooftops A bit of static and now what? Sheryl Crow telling us … “This is L.A.” — and yes — it is L.A.
It’s time to leave the metal bird … let the wonderful weirdness begin.
Catherine Miller is a Whitehorse-based writer on a months-long tour of far-flung places. Her chronicle appears here every Monday.